The ability to accept credit and debit cards will boost your online sales.
In the earliest days of the internet, merchant accounts were expensive and hard to get. Further, the process of hooking up an e-commerce solution, shopping cart, merchant account and bookkeeping software was difficult-to-impossible. As a result, many small retailers who moved operations online quickly were limited to payments by check or money order.
How many sales did they lose because of that? Many.
Nearly two decades later, that situation has changed. It’s unusual to find a reputable online store that doesn’t accept plastic. And one major player that has ushered in this friendlier marketplace is Intuit, with its Merchant Service for Web Stores.
Designed to be used with QuickBooks but capable of functioning without it, this service can actually improve your sales numbers by making it more convenient for people to buy from you. It can also make your virtual retail work easier and more efficient. And it improves the accuracy of your bookkeeping by reducing duplicate data entry.
If you have an existing QuickBooks Merchant Services account, you can add web store functionality to it; otherwise, you’ll need to apply for a new one. All major credit cards can be accepted.
When you launch an online selling site, you’ll be dealing with five primary elements:
- An e-commerce application. This provides a structure for your retail storefront, a series of web pages where you can post product descriptions, promotions, company information, etc. You can integrate Intuit Merchant Service for Web Stores with numerous e-commerce solutions, including Homestead, Go Daddy and Web.com.
Figure 1: A Homestead design template
- A shopping cart. Just what it sounds like: the tools that make it possible for people to browse and earmark items for purchase, then have the total “rung up” at the end and shipping arranged. This is usually a function of your e-commerce solution.
- A host. Hosts are the financial institutions that say Yea or Nay to your customers’ attempts to make a purchase using a credit card.
- A payment “gateway.” When a customer places an order on your e-commerce site, Intuit Merchant Service for Web Stores serves as kind of a go-between. It handles the mechanics involved in dealing with the sensitive financial information required to approve a transaction. It also initiates the movement of funds from your customer’s financial institution into your merchant account. During that transitional period, the transactions will appear as Pending in the Merchant Service Center.
Figure 2: You can see the status of your web store transactions by using this menu in the Merchant Service Center.
When the funds arrive, the transaction will be marked Funded. At this point, you’ll be able to download that money into QuickBooks itself.
- Your own bank. You will, of course, need an account that will receive the funds transfers.
A complex but logical flow
Applying for a merchant account through Intuit Payment Solutions is easy, but mastering the Merchant Service Center can be difficult. Also, e-commerce involves some complex integration. We can help you get through your initial sessions.
We don’t mean to discourage you. On the contrary, e-commerce can become a lucrative part of your business. But consider consulting with us until you’re comfortable with what will eventually become a natural process for you.